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Building Computational, Social, Emotional Learning Skills into Undergraduate Computing Education Through Student-led Coding Camps

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Undergraduate Students' Professional Skills and Reflection

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

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Paper Authors


Gloria Washington Howard University

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Gloria Washington is an Assistant Professor at Howard University in Computer Science. At Howard, she runs the Affective Biometrics Lab and performs research on affective computing, computer science education, and biometrics. The mission of ABL is to improve the everyday lives of underrepresented and/or underserved humans through the creation of technologies that utilize human physiological and behavioral characteristics for identity recognition and/or understanding of human emotions. Currently, she is leading research that explores the role of affect and imposter syndrome on performance in computer science courses. Additionally, she is exploring the link between technology, mental health, and Black women’s hair texture. Finally, she also works closely with clinicians within the Howard University Hospital to develop technologies for improving the lives of children and teenagers with Sickle Cell Disease through creation of tools for keeping track of their pain and encouraging them in moments of depression. The ABL is currently funded by the National Science Foundation, National Security Agency, and Microsoft. Before coming to Howard, she was an Intelligence Community Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Computing Science at Clemson University. She performed research on identifying individuals based solely from pictures of their ears. Dr. Washington has more than fifteen years in Government service and has presented on her research throughout industry. Ms. Washington holds M.S. and Ph.D. in Computer Science from The George Washington University, and a B.S. in Computer Information Systems from Lincoln University of Missouri.

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Marlon Mejias University of North Carolina, Charlotte

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Dr. Marlon Mejias is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Software and Information Systems at UNC Charlotte. His research interests lie in the field of Socio-technical Systems, Educational Technology and Human Computer Interaction. He is interested in the application of persuasive technology and gamification to solve problems that are socially relevant. The primary thrust of his current research is in designing and implementing a socio-technical approach to improving the holistic education of undergraduate computer science students. Dr. Mejias has a B.Sc. in Systems and Computer Science from Howard University, a M.Sc. in Systems Engineering from The George Washington University and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Howard University.

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Marlon Mejias


Legand L. Burge III Howard University

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Dr. Burge is Professor and Executive Director of the Howard West Initiative and former Chairman of the Department of Computer Science at Howard University. His primary research interest is in distributed computing. Dr. Burge is also interested in Computer Science Education and Diversity, and Tech Entrepreneurship and Innovation. His work in CS Education and Diversity has primarily been focused on informal and personalized learning, and on the use of technology to aid in the socio-technical enculturation of underrepresented students in CS, K-12 initiatives, and diversity, equity, and inclusion beyond compliance. Dr. Burge practices design thinking as an innovative teaching methodology and promotes immersive learning and learning by doing. He co-teaches the Bison Startup and Bison Accelerate courses co-developed with YCombinator, in which students are guided through the process of founding technology startups. Dr. Burge has a strong interest in developing university innovation ecosystems for HBCUs as a way to create alternative revenue streams, attract and retain students, and prepare students with 21st century skills. He currently directs the HowU Innovate Foundry; which has consistently incubated on average 15 student led tech startups per year. Dr. Burge is a certified Lean Launchpad Educator, and Stanford D-School Design Thinker. He is a co-founder of XediaLabs, a DC-based incubation firm that provides training and technical consulting to local startups. He has been featured in several articles such as Bloomberg Business Week regarding diversity and inclusion in tech, and conducted a TedX talk on HBCUs role in the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem for African Americans. Dr. Burge is a Fellow of AAAS, BEYA Innovation Award recipient, and a Fulbright Scholar recipient.

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This evidence-based practice paper describes how computing programs can leverage undergraduate student-led coding camps to foster computational thinking skills and social and emotional skills in near-peer mentors that teach the activities in the camp. Undergraduate computer science students learn computational thinking skills in courses like introduction to computing, object-oriented programming, and introduction to algorithms. Undergraduate computing programs also leverage communications or tech writing courses to teach students how to be an effective communicator and team-member for their future careers. Rarely do students learn how to become an effective coach, empathize with others, and listen for comprehension. This paper suggests that computing students engage in at least one coding camp taught to high school students. Mentorship through coding camps can help undergraduate computing students gain social and emotional learning skills that translate to better job performance. In this work, we analyzed the results of two iterations from a summer coding experience for high school students that teaches tech entrepreneurship and innovation. Near-peer mentors of undergraduate students in their junior and senior year were chosen to lead all activities of the coding camp for high school aged black men with supervision by a graduate mentor. Qualitative analysis of focus group interviews and student surveys showed that undergraduate students learned how to better manage their emotions while providing feedback to high school students. Students also became more socially aware of their feedback and communications with high school students to not embarrass or unconsciously disrespect young learners. Results from this work can be used to improve undergraduate computing education using outreach.

Washington, G., & Mejias, M., & Mejias, M., & Burge, L. L. (2021, July), Building Computational, Social, Emotional Learning Skills into Undergraduate Computing Education Through Student-led Coding Camps Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--36768

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